I’m in the waiting room of the urologist’s office. My husband has a kidney stone. He has been putting off seeing the doctor for a week (that’s a topic for another day -men – honestly!), so now here we are, on my day off. I am shifting in my chair, restless and irritable, thinking of a dozen things I would rather be doing. I do recognize the irony, of course. This is how my patients feel every day. So, while I am sitting here, I will give you my advice for preparing for your appointment to see the doctor:
- Give yourself plenty of time. If you have never been to this doctor, or if the office is part of a hospital campus, getting there may take some effort. And parking may be difficult. If you arrive at the front desk tense, late, and anxious, your visit is not off to a great start. For an appointment with a new doctor, give yourself a half day, so that you won’t be worried about getting back to work or picking up the kids on time. And a helpful hint: try to schedule in the early morning or early afternoon; we are less likely to be running behind, and we are less rushed.
- Bring your insurance information and your photo ID. Our check-in today took an hour because our insurance changed and we needed a referral which wasn’t sent. No matter how well you plan, these things happen sometimes.
- Bring something to read. Don’t count on your doctor’s office having anything current or interesting. A 2008 issue of Field and Stream? Please. In our defense, our office subscribes to lots of magazines, but they seem to disappear.
- Bring something to do. I did think to bring my iPad today, thank goodness. A serene-looking lady next to me is doing sudoku puzzles. One of my patients who has to come to my office twice weekly brings her knitting.
- Eat before you come to the office unless they tell you not to. If you’re hungry, you will be cranky and impatient, and you will have trouble engaging in our discussion.
- Bring questions. Write them down. You may think you will remember what you want to ask, but believe me, you won’t.
- Finally, just as you would at the end of any meeting, you want to sum it up and know the plan. Do you need a follow-up appointment? Have any medicines been prescribed? Are you having lab tests? How will you be contacted with the results?
What an opportunity and what a blessing this day has been for me. Being in my patients’ shoes reminds me to respect the time that they have taken to come and see me, and to experience their visit from a different perspective. I’m ordering five more subscriptions to Southern Living and Real Simple for the office. Stat!